Somalia prepares for its historic population and housing census

Somalia prepares for its historic population and housing census

OPINION- On November 18, Somalia’s National Bureau of Statistics joined the continent in celebrating Africa Statistics Day. National statistics are an essential element for the development of sound policies, providing evidence on improving the lives of citizens, monitoring results and communicating development results. Without better and more accessible data, policymakers will struggle to address important economic development issues at the local and international levels.

Therefore, the demand to produce high quality data with high frequency and rapid dissemination has been strong in recent years. Along with the need for reliable and high-quality statistics, a professional and independent statistical office ensures that the best possible data is compiled and disseminated. For example, the World Bank recommends that poverty surveys be conducted every three years and published within 12 months of data collection. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 for Africa recognize the central role of reliable statistics and emphasize national targets, indicators and reporting.

The population and housing census is the most extensive data collection undertaken in a country by the government. The long history of census data collection dates back to 2000-1000 BCE to ancient Egypt, Greece, and China, which listed people, livestock, and food items. Then came the end of the 18th century, the governments of Europe and North America established statistical agencies to publish official statistics on the state of the nation and to inform public discourse. European countries began to systematically conduct full population censuses, and a decennial national census became a provision of the United States Constitution. By the end of the 19th century, half of the world’s population had been enumerated in censuses. These advances have also led to some of the innovations in statistical and social science research methods that have enabled the rise of sample survey.

For the Federal Republic of Somalia, the story is different. Since its independence in 1960, it has carried out only two censuses. The first population census took place in 1975 but has not been published. Only an analytical report based on the census was published in 1984. Another population census was carried out in 1985-86, and the results were not published due to accuracy problems. And a population estimate was made in 2014. Therefore, the last census that was taken and released was in 1975, indicating the fact that there is a dearth of accurate and reliable statistics.

The Somalia National Bureau of Statistics office is currently working to fill this forty-six-year-long gap in vital statistics. So far the office has drafted the Somali labor force survey report, the report on the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 on the Benadir region, the health survey report and the demography of Somalia. It also released data on economic growth as well as the consumer price index. Currently, it plans to conduct the Somalia Integrated Household Budget Survey (2021/22), Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), which are in preparation for the Population and Housing Census in 2023. .

The 2023 population and housing census intends to enumerate and inform everyone, from the newborn to the oldest person in the country, both for citizens and for non-citizens. In addition, the population and housing census will collect information on other characteristics such as health, education, housing, employment, migration and disability, among others.

In terms of capacity building for a strong national statistical system and governance, the Somalia National Bureau of Statistics has evolved from a department of the planning ministry to an independent, self-governing body with an independent board of directors, both approved by the cabinet appointed by the president.

Recently, Somalia’s National Bureau of Statistics also signed a historic formal agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for the transfer of the Food Security Analysis Unit and of Nutrition (FSNAU) and Land and Water Information Management in Somalia (SWALIM). FAO programs in the Office. The transfer will take place using a three-phase approach which is expected to be completed within three years.

In conclusion, the future of a reliable national statistical system is bright, given where we come from. We look forward to delivering the legacy of producing high quality, timely data together with continuous improvements to build capacity and functionality over the years in tandem with globally recognized standards and methods.

Mr. Farah is the Director General of the Somalia National Bureau of Statistics. [email protected]

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